Keep in mind that even though Google's ranking factors keep changing, their main goal – to serve the user – doesn't. This is significant because, even though individual ranking factors change year after year, any SEO that works to serve the user will eventually be rewarded.
Take a look at some of Google' s past updates.One update that was catastrophic for many websites was when Google started penalizing content producers.It's not because Google didn't want more content; He just wanted better content that was more authoritative, unique, and would ultimately be more useful to the user.
Here are the 7 classification factors that will move the needle in the most efficient way for your business.As we review this checklist, take a moment to think about how each ranking factor is creating a better user experience.
1) Brand signals
Back in 2008, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said,
"Brands are the solution, not the problem.Brands are how you solve the cesspool. "
And by 'cesspool,' he was referring to the Internet.
I'm sure you've noticed that it's very difficult to rank above an article on Forbes or the entrepreneur even if you have a better article that is much more informative and easy to use.Because?Because they have a stronger brand.
Let's analyze some ranking factors that Google considers.
Direct web traffic
One way Google can tell if you're a credible brand is by looking at the amount of direct website traffic you get.
Direct traffic comes from users who type in the exact URL of the website or access the site from a bookmark.Direct traffic is important, as it has a significant impact on the top 10 positions on Google.
When you look at Google Analytics for your site, the direct traffic will look like this:
In a sense, direct road signs that users know your brand and often visit your site to find information, products, services, or to access a member portal.It is an indication of consumer trust and brand awareness.
Important note: Direct traffic can be tilted
Real direct traffic can be slightly inclined.Google Analytics will report traffic as "direct" if it doesn't have data on how a user got to your site (this could be via "dark social" channels, such as email).
Employees who access the website via the URL can also divert direct traffic, thus excluding employee IP addresses from Google Analytics.This will allow you to better understand your audience and how many real users are returning to your site.
Watch our video 6 ways to exponentially increase traffic to your content:
Questions about the trademark
Another way Google can distinguish an unnamed website from a branded website is to look at the number of trademark-related queries.Here's what a brand query looks like for Single Grain:
The more times people type in your business name, the stronger the brand is in Google's eyes.
In fact, a study conducted by Moz showed that having a large number of brand questions is even more important than DA or link:Dive Deeper: Keyword targeting versus keywords SEO: What should you focus on?
Finally, while Google doesn't really consider social interaction as a direct ranking factor, it does play a role in branding and so there is a direct correlation between social sharing and higher rankings.
Social signals are very relevant to SEO, so make sure you take advantage of them:
Think about all the credible brands you know and trust.Everyone has social profiles and social proof on the web, so you should also have an active account on one of the following social platforms:
One of the best ways to elevate your brand is to provide a powerful user experience.Users are more likely to revisit a site that is easy to navigate and answers their questions in an easily digestible way.
The user experience not only improves brand quality, but also translates directly into revenue.Design Advisor states that for every $1 invested in UX, you'll get an ROI of $2-$100.
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2) Dwell time
Once you get your audience to visit your site, you need to keep it around for as long as possible.If Google sees that people don't spend a lot of time on your website, they'll think your result isn't useful:We include dwell time here as an important ranking factor, although it's only relevant if your page is already ranked in the top ten.
Technically, Google doesn't claim that dwell time is a ranking factor, though it does claim to use machine learning to determine which results are best for the user.One of the ways Google does this is by determining how much time is spent on a website before clicking on the SERP page, so dwell time is still very important for SEO.
It is important to note that dwell time, bounce rate and time on site are all very different parameters.
Bounce rate: A user clicks on a website's link on the SERPs but does not visit other pages on that site.Note that even if the user stayed on that page for two hours before closing the window, if they didn't click on another page, it's still considered a bounce.
Time on site: This is the amount of time spent on any page of a site before clicking.Note that both bounce rate and time on the page/site can be tracked in Google Analytics:Dwell time : Dwell time is simply the total time a user spends on your site before returning to the SERPs.
Why is dwell time important?Google wants to know that content and information on the page is valuable to users.For example, if the dwell time is less than the competition, this indicates to search engines that the content provided may not meet a user's needs.This may result in a reduction in ranking.
While dwell time varies by page type, it could be a good opportunity to re-evaluate any long-form content that has an average time on site of less than three minutes.
How to improve dwell time
There are a few ways to increase time on the site.It's a delicate balance between providing easy-to-digest content and at the same time giving the user what they're looking for.
Tips for improving time on site include:
- A captivating introduction to make users read
- Break up large paragraphs to make content easier to read
- Many section headings and bullets
- A mobile-friendly website
- Highly visual assets such as images, GIFs, and videos
- Provide answers to questions in an actionable way
For example, providing actionable recommendations on keyword research in your content gives users value, which means they'll be waiting for a few minutes to read, learn, and understand: Once you have users on your page and engage, provide easy site navigation to increase pages per session.
How to reduce bounce rate
Bounce rate is another good indicator that your content provides a poor experience, which will lead to poor dwell time.
There are a few SEO hacks you can use to reduce your bounce rate:
- More in-depth linking: Linking to relevant pages within your content can engage users.
- More relevant pages: Development of support pages that can add value, such as relevant product pages such as guides, manuals, reviews, and case studies.
- Use sidebars: Sidebars are widgets you can use to link to popular pages on your website.
- Engage users visually: Videos are a great way to improve user engagement.For example, you can embed a video in your blog post on the same topic.
- Review pages with high bounce rate : Identify pages with a high bounce rate and edit them.
3) Website speed
Website speed is another ranking factor that continues to be significant.This update was launched in July of 2018 and was called Speed Update.
As I said at the beginning, Google's goal is to give the user the best possible experience, so if your site doesn't load quickly, you'll definitely miss out on some rankings.But regardless of the rankings, slow site speed results in poor user experience, and this has proven to have a direct impact on ROI.
Amazon conducted a study that showed that for every extra second your website loading requires a $1.6 million loss in sales , so make sure your website loads quickly!
How to improve website speed
If you're not a very technical person, this could be something you pass on to your web development team.
Before doing so, enter your website URL in Page Speed Insights.This is a free tool provided by Google that will show you your current loading speed and also give you advice on how to make it faster:Keep in mind, however, that this is not always 100% accurate.
You can compare it to tools like GTmetrix.In addition, Google has announced that it will release a more accurate tool directly in Google Search Console.
If you want to tackle the issues yourself, here are a couple of tips you can do without a developer:
- Use good hosting – this is easy.If you have a WordPress website, consider using something like WPengine.
- Optimize images: If you haven't optimized your images yet, this should be on your to-do list.Compress large images with a tool like Image Optimizer.
- Browser caching: When you visit a web page, your browser will store ("cache") information from the page so you don't have to reload the entire page.However, this will eventually slow down the site.To avoid this, just set the "expiration" heading for how long you want the information to be cached.
4) Domain Authority
There's no way around this.As brands become more and more popular, it only makes sense for Google to worry about the domain authority of a website.
It's very unlikely that you'll find a keyword with a high difficulty score showing results on low DA pages.Look at the SERPs for SEO:
Everyone has DA over 85.
Think about your biggest competitors.Those who are always above you, no matter how much better your content is, probably have superior domain authority.
How to improve domain authority
Improving domain authority is not a quick fix.However, if you're in it for the long game, there's still hope.Here are some things you can do to increase your domain's authority.
Build relationships (links)
Note that I don't just suggest creating links.Sure, everything I'm going to say next will eventually equate to links, but focusing on the relationship rather than the link will help you scale faster.Take the time to get to know not only other people in the space, but also your customers.They can really be your biggest supporters, especially if they have blogs, podcasts, or video channels.
Connecting with influencers is another great way to get people to engage with your brand and earn those valuable backlinks almost effortlessly.You can also consider hiring a PR team for this.
Delivering value (extraordinary content)
Content is no longer king. Quality content is now king.We've all heard that.However, what happens when there are already over a billion blogs available and each of them has content?Google chooses the most valuable content for the reader.No one will give you a gold star just for producing another piece of content that says the same thing all other blogs say.Consider writing 10 pieces of content using Brian Dean's Skyscraper technique.
Right.It might not seem like a tactic that will directly boost your DA, but if you tell your boss/clients that it will take months and years, you'll save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.It is true that a site's age plays into its SEO rankings, so sometimes you'll just have to wait.It continues to provide incredible value and you will be fine.
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The number of backlinks pointing to your site continues to be an important ranking factor.For example, the top link in Google search results has twice as many referring domains as content in position 10.
Considering the complexity of Google's more than 200 algorithm ranking factors, have a single factor present in a high correlation score indicating a strong level of correlation."
Referring domain vs. backlinks
In Ahref's recent study, referring domains are strongly correlated with more organic keyword rankings:A referring domain is simply the number of websites that essentially guarantee the quality of the website, the specific content on the site, or the products and services offered.
It's a bit like having a network of friends.In the "real world," people with a large network of experts, such as CEOs of major companies, are generally excellent sources of information.
Google can examine your website's network by analyzing other sites that mention and link to you.If each referring domain is the equivalent of a friend, Google sees the most authoritative person (or, in this analogy, the website) as the one with the most friends/largest network (in this case referring domains).
Dive Deeper: 4 Ways to Report to Google You're an Expert Content
Creator You can have multiple backlinks from a referring domain, but both should grow a bit linear, though you won't necessarily get the same ratio of backlinks to referring domains every time.This is a pretty healthy example of growth: Ideally, you need a combination of referring domains that point to your site, including high- and medium-level sites.
Once you have a backlink from a domain, do you need it?Does multiple backlinks from the same domain help?More backlinks from a referring domain help, although there are diminishing returns for each additional backlink from the same domain.
A good way to take advantage of this is to request additional backlinks to go to specific product pages or content as it will still greatly strengthen individual pages:
How to increase the number of referring domains
Getting multiple referral domains works in your SEO link building strategy, and one of the best ways to build your link portfolio is to create high-quality content that is shareable.Here's how:
- Creating broken links : Using this strategy, you can search for broken links on content from other sites with the intent of replacing it with your own.You can use the Google Chrome Check My Links plugin to identify broken links and then send outreach emails by launching your link as a replacement.
- Find relevant resource pages: One of the easiest ways to earn backlinks is to find relevant resource pages on which you can list your website.Find resource pages by typing "Keyword" + "helpful resources" or "keyword" + "useful links" in the Google search bar.Identify the most relevant emails and send outreach messages.
- Brand mentions: You may be surprised at how many websites mention your brand without linking back.Using BuzzSumo, you can identify shares of your content and ask for a backlink.
- Influencer marketing campaign: For websites that offer products and services, you can use an influencer marketing campaign to increase the number of referring domains.Because?Influencers share more content!Blogger influencers can be great for this, especially if they write for high-quality publications.
- Offline efforts: This is often overlooked and yet is one of the most powerful link building tools available.Remember that behind a blog there are real people who have a real network of friends and colleagues.If a close friend asked you to share a quality article, you'd probably be happy to do it for free.Take time by going to conferences, organizing coffee meetings, and other personal interactions to establish that friendship.
One of the best ways to earn more backlinks is to combine your link building strategy with your content marketing campaigns.By producing high-quality, highly shareable content, natural links simply come effortlessly.
Other ways to combine your link building efforts with your content marketing strategy include:
- Visual content (infographics, diagrams and graphs, videos)
- Final/Ultimate Guides (Like this one for YouTube SEO)
- Original research posts (data you filled in)
Developing quality content is essential to your link-building efforts because content is an important ranking factor.
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Watch our video called Beginner's Guide to SEO: Introduction to blogs and articles :
6) Secure site
Creating a website was a complicated process reserved for those who had a deep understanding of coding.So it was not uncommon to come across a website that was not secure – and even today many sites are still not safe.
What do I mean by sure?Take a look at this URL:Secure sites have an https:// instead of just an http:// (the "S" stands for "secure").
Google now makes it very easy to spot whether a site is protected or not by putting a green padlock and the word "secure" in the address bar.Clicking on the green padlock will give you more information about site security:Here's an example of an insecure site:In August 2014, Google announced that HTTPS is a ranking signal, so I had to search the ninth page to find an example of an insecure site!
How to secure your website
First of all, what does it mean to have a secure site?Having an https:// simply means that your site has an SSL certificate.(SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and, in short, is the standard technology for keeping an Internet connection secure.)
If you have a developer, you can send it to them.If not, don't worry, because it's not too difficult (read our guide on switching from HTTP to HTTPS here).
Here is the short version of how to acquire an SSL certificate:
- Host with a dedicated IP address
- Buy SSL certificate
- Verify and validate your new certificate
- Install your SSL certificate
- Redirect the HTTP version to the secure HTTPS version
7) Content development
In many ways, the ranking factors that matter most depend on content development.From increasing direct traffic to increasing user interaction with your site, creating high-quality content is key.
Keep these requirements in mind for powerful content that increases ranking:
While content length is not necessarily a predetermined ranking factor, there is a direct correlation between longer content and higher rankings.
The key here is to create long-form content, not verbose content.A study conducted by Neil Patel reconfirms that higher-level results are generally longer:
Instead of filling the page with fluff, use the skyscraper technique to write above and beyond basic content, "you've been there, done" using case studies, actionable suggestions, and unique perspectives.
Another important ranking factor to consider when it comes to content is lists (aka bullet points).This affects the user experience, as bullets make it easier to skim the page and usually increase dwell time.
Brian Dean of Backlinko shared the average time on his site page for content that was almost a whopping 7 minutes!!
And when you click on the post, you'll see that there are plenty of bold lists, images, and headlines, which make it easy for a reader to stick around: This explains why the average time on that page is so high.
Once you've created your awesome piece of long-form content, you're not done.This is where the real work begins.You need to make sure that you promote your blog posts correctly, such as:
- Social channels: Promote your content via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or any other site relevant to your business.
- Medium: Medium is a widely overlooked channel for promotion.Post the first two paragraphs and then link to your website to increase your traffic.
- Link building outreach: Don't spam your posts to thousands of people, but send them to the people or businesses you've connected to.Those people will probably be glad you connected to them and could help you share the content.
- Paid ads: If you don't have a large audience yet, consider running paid social ads because if people don't know who you are, the easiest way to find and target them with their exact interests is to use filters in social platforms.For example, Facebook ads are really good with targeting.
- Influencers in your space: If you connect to any influencer within your blog post, email each of them and say something like, "Hey [NAME].I just want to let you know that I'm a big fan of your work, to the point that I even linked to you in my last blog [NOME / LINK ARTICOLO]post.Thank you!" It's that simple.
Omnichannel is perhaps one of the biggest targets in recent times and will have a huge impact on rankings and brand.You used to be able to build a brand with a great blog, but that's no longer the case.
If you want to compete in this increasingly competitive market, you need to have your content on multiple platforms.
How do you do that?You don't have to produce a million pieces of different content.Consider using our content sprout technique and start with just one piece of content.It could be a blog post that turns into a video, which can become a podcast that can become an infographic, etc. Dive Deeper: Multichannel Marketing: Using the Content Sprout Method to Overcome Information OverloadBonus: Recovery from penaltiesIf you wake up one day and see a sharp drop in traffic, it can only mean one thing: you've been penalized by Google: So what can you do to recover from a Google fine?
First, go to your Google Search Console.It will give you a message if there is a manual sanction.
If they gave you a manual penalty, simply correct what they penalized you for.Then you can send a report on manual actions.
If it wasn't a manual sanction, many more people would probably have been affected.Take a look at some research publications, such as the Search Engine Journal or the Search Engine Roundtable to see if they've posted anything about a major algorithm update.
Many people have been impressed by Panda and Penguin updates. Agile Media published a case study on a site that had been hit with the Penguin penalty:They had a client that had a certain number of spam links, so when they saw the traffic decrease, they made a list of all the websites that were spam and asked to remove the links.
They filed a request for reconsideration and the sanction was lifted within 7 days.
If you don't notice any big hype from the SEO world, follow your revenue carefully.Are you actually losing revenue?Google may have sent irrelevant visitors to your site, and they may have accounted for a substantial portion of your traffic, but none of them were converting.This is actually good news because the bounce rate will decrease and time on the page will increase, which automatically increases the quality of your SEO.
Brian Dean once published a post How to get high-quality backlinks.It was of the highest quality and therefore ranked for many keywords, including "how to get high".As you can imagine, this post didn't serve the searcher's intent, so Google slowly started dropping it into the rankings for that keyword.As a result, the bounce rate decreased and time on the page increased.
Dive Deeper: How to Recover from Any Google Penalty
Ranking factors will continue to change, but for now these are the most important ranking factors.Each of the factors included here aims to create a better response for the user, which is an evergreen goal that Google has.
By improving the above high-level factors, you can deliver quality content, improve key analytics, increase traffic, and build a robust link portfolio.In many ways, by improving just one or two of these points, the others will also improve.Like many things about SEO, the correlation between ranking factors is really powerful.